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New Westminster looks at bike racks - on the streets

Cyclists may soon be locking their bikes to racks on the street.

New Westminster city council is considering a pilot project for on-street bicycle parking.

If approved, the proposal suggested by Coun. Jonathan Cote would follow in the footsteps of the City of Victoria.

Victoria successfully implemented on-street bike parking recently, said Cote.

On-street bike parking would require a car stall and meter to be removed, with the new bike rack taking its place.

“You take one parking space that’s straight parking, say on Victoria Street, then you’d put in a number of biking spaces,” said Cote.

Each spot would contain a rack that holds at least six bikes, according to Cote.

Specific locations haven’t been proposed yet, but Downtown business areas appear to be the most likely.

“We’ll try to find ideal locations where there’s a higher level of bikers and business that would be happy with bike parking, like in front of some local cafés,” said Cote.

A Columbia Street location has also been suggested by the New Westminster Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.

“Sidewalks on commercial streets get cluttered with signs and bike racks,” said Cote. “It might be easier to pull up to one of these locations, and it would also be better for pedestrian traffic.”

The geography of New Westminster makes it harder for cyclists to get around, but the city has been working to promote bike use, said Cote.

At this point, there’s no estimated cost of implementing new bike racks or loss of revenue from taking out a parking meter.

“Removing a parking stall meter may mean some lost revenue but the rack is pretty simple [and low cost],” said Cote.

Andrew Feltham, chair of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition for New Westminster, is enthusiastic about the idea.

“It’s a low cost, creative solution (for providing more bike spaces),” said Feltham. “I think it’s a complement to other types of parking and would provide a lot of parking in a small space.”

In terms of safety, Feltham said he’d feel completely safe using on-street bike parking.

“I think if it was well designed there would be no safety concerns; it’s very visible so people can see it,” he said.

Feltham believes the move could actually increase business for local merchants.

“It wouldn’t block storefront views like a large paneled van might,” he said. “Car parking spots only use one vehicle. You potentially have a lot more people using it, attracting more business.”

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